After a particularly harrowing night of tear gas, rubber bullets and false arrests, a relative calm has settled over Ferguson, Mo., thanks in large part to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, which wrested control from the local police force earlier today.
The tension reached a fever pitch last night when police began to launch dramatic offensives against gatherings of peaceful protesters and the reporters covering the conflict.
But since Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's Thursday afternoon press conference announcing the command change, led by Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, the protesters and cops have, for the most part, laid aside their differences:
Not only did Johnson march with the protesters, but he vowed to not blockade the street, to set up a media staging center, and to ensure that residents' rights to assemble and protest were not infringed upon. Officers working crowd control, he said, have been told they must take off their gas masks.
"When I see a young lady cry because of fear of this uniform, that's a problem." Johnson said. "We've got to solve that."
Now, according to Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery—who was arrested along with a Huffington Post reporter for no apparent reason yesterday—protesters may actually be enjoying the police presence. Johnson, who marched along with city residents earlier this afternoon, was also spotted hugging and kissing protesters.
"This is what our community was like before a child was killed in our streets," Jerroll Sanders, a protest organizer, told the Washington Post. "But what we've seen is a change in the policing approach. The aggression was never brought on by us."
At this time at night on Monday, residents were in real fear for their lives. Tonight they're taking selfies with cops.
— Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) August 15, 2014
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) August 15, 2014
[images via AP, Twitter]